Saturday, July 31, 2010

Harden Notes

Saturday night's great start by right-hander Rich Harden was helped by the fact that Harden didn't over- analyze things between pitches. He said he's never been that type of pitcher before in his career, but fell into that routine this year. "It helped not thinking too much and going out there and throwing it," Harden said. Saturday night he took the approach of trust your stuff and throw the ball. It worked out to the tune of seven innings, five hits and one run in a 2-1 victory.

Here are a couple of other thoughts from Harden

"It felt good. It's been a long wait, just thinking about getting out there. It's not a good feeling not being able to pitch and not being able to help your team out. I really wanted to go out and be aggressive and put the ball in play."

"Keeping a consistent arm slot makes me more effective as a pitcher. I've had a tendency this year of dropping my arm slot and pushing so my offspeed stuff is either a ball or have a different look to them. Guys can lay off or adjust to it."



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Thursday, July 29, 2010

News and Notes

Majors
MLBTR has some reports up that Florida has agreed to pay Cantu's salary so it seems likely that TX will be forced yet again to sell their prospects to consummate a trade. Oddly enough, I've heard some reliever's names mentioned like Fabio Castillo and Reed. Cross your fingers that no one we _really_ like has to be thrown in the mix.

I don't get the interest in Cantu. His peripherals have declined each month of the season and his OPS vs LHP is .720. He has mostly played third this year, platooning some at 1b it seems (40g/7starts), putting up poor #s at 3b (tz -5) and average #s at 1b (.0). Yes he will do better against LHP than Davis but a .720 OPS at 1b in the AL is still bad. So, yeah, I don't really get the move if they pull it off.


Kinsler to the DL due to a groin injury. Moreland called up and added to the 40. Mark Lowe to the 60-day DL.

I've written about this before here and in other forums, but there are a few questions Moreland gets a chance to answer not that he has broken onto the 25 earlier than expected: 1. Does his bat speed measure up especially vs RHP; 2. Some have said that he has a hole inside that ML RHP will effectively exploit; 3. Can he be productive enough to man 1b, RF, or DH without being a HR hitter; 4. Will he show the same reverse splits this year that he did last year (thus putting into question his ultimate value as a LHH); 5. How will his defense be at 1b after not having played the position FT the last 2 years (he did play 1b in college and in his first years in the minors however). 6. With the game sped up quite a bit in the bigs, how will he look chasing balls in RF? Fringe Average, a liability...?

I've been a Moreland skeptic because of these issues since his promotion to Frisco last year when his #s weren't all that great. They weren't great in the AFL, nor were they great in AAA early in the season, but he has been on a 2.5 month hot streak to bring his #s up and evened out his splits but I bet over the full course of the season you wouldve seen his LH/RH splits (ops) slightly reversed: .925/.850. So I guess the main question for me is whether gap power, with slightly reverse splits and an .850ops (in the upper minors) vs RHP translates into a ML starter at any of those 3 spots. Could he be the weird exception who is a bench bat, but a lefty brought in to face lefties, so a lefty/lefty platoon at 1b? That would be weird but maybe perfect, an atypical platoon.

Anyways, I like the idea of getting Moreland up a few games before the trade deadline; maybe TX simply loves Moreland or maybe they have some questions about him too, and want to take a look. I have to say though it is good to have Moe up to eyeball him, it might also indicate that TX has bailed out of the trade market for a RH platoon partner for Davis or possibly that they will be active during the August waiver period. I should also say that while I'm skeptical of Moreland it is not because he might not be able to become an average major leaguer some day, just that, he is one of those older upper minors hitters whose minor leauge #s and major league projection puzzles me a bit. I'm not at all certain how things will turn out for him, but I am very curious just in terms of thinking through how minor league #s translate to the bigs.


Derek Holland
Holland threw mostly fastballs in his second rehab start yesterday, throwing only 60 pitches over 5 innings and allowing only solo HR. The coaching staff (Clark I think) mentioned that he probably needed 2 more starts in which he worked on his changeup and slider before he would be considered for a promotion. Here are some quotes from Holland to that effect:


"I was excited. I wanted to attack the zone and get my fastball working....
"I throw my fastball and worked in my slider and curve too," Holland said. "I only threw one changeup, but I was in a groove and didn't want to worry about that today."
Holland said he was focused on trying to get as many outs with as few pitches as he could. He certainly did that, averaging just 12 pitches per inning.
"My next start, I'm going to work on my off-speed stuff," Holland said.
Holland will stay on a starter schedule and continue to build up his arm strength. Manager Ron Washington said he wants Holland to make at least two more starts before he could rejoin the Rangers.



Rich Harden
The Rangers have yet to make a decision to activate Harden or keep him in OKC for one more rehab start. TX will not be forced to activate him until ~8/11 if it came to that. The rumor has it that Harden will take Feldman's start on Saturday if he is activated. Harden says he is ready.



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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cody Buckel signs

Anthony Andro reports that 2nd rd pick Cody Buckel has signed for 590k. I think this is about 100k over slot but I thought it would take anywhere between 700-900k to get the promising high school righty signed. Glad to be wrong. I'm really looking forward to him getting in some games around the last couple of weeks of the season. He's an advanced pitcher with 4 pitches and AA velo but a smallish right hander, although i read a report some weeks ago that he has already grown a bit in the last year. I should also say that drafting a smallish HS righty is more risky than drafting a smallish HS lefty so it will be interesting to see if he can remain a starter. If his command is as advanced as his repertoire, the real test will come for him in the upper minors (same with Elrin in fact). Here is BA's report on the kid:

Residing close to Hollywood, Buckel relishes a good dramatic flourish. He begins his pregame warm-up by standing on the grass between the mound and second base with the ball in his hand. He races up the backside of the mound, down the front, and fires the ball plateward. A fledgling singer and actor when he isn't striking out hitters, Buckel is undersized for a righthander at 6 feet, 170 pounds. He does flash a big man's fastball at 92-94 mph. Buckel mixes in an excellent array of secondary pitches, with a curveball, changeup and cutter. His pitching idol is Tim Lincecum, and while his stuff is not as electric as the Giants ace's, he still displays the potential for four average to plus deliveries. The primary concern is durability, as he usually loses 3-4 mph on his fastball as a game progresses. Committed to Pepperdine, Buckel projects as either a back-of-the-rotation starter or set-up man in professional baseball.

Here is Perfect Game's profile:
124. CODY BUCKEL, rhp, Royal HS, Simi Valley, Calif.
SCOUTING PROFILE (3/1): Buckel is your prototypical slender 6-footrighthander, but one of the best in that demographic in the country. He hasbeen a high-profile pitcher in the Southern Californiaprep ranks for four years, and his stock for the 2010 draft has gone up thisspring as he opened the season at 7-0, 0.72 with 62 strikeouts and only fivewalks. The highlight game of Buckel’s senior season was a one-walk,10-strikeout no-hitter against Westlake High and its slugging first basemanChristian Yelich, which was watched by dozens of scouts. Buckel also pitchedfor the 2008 U.S. national youth(16-and-under) and 2009 U.S.national junior (18-and-under) teams, going a combined 3-0 with 23 strikeoutsin 14 innings. When not pitching, Buckel plays shortstop for Royal High, and hewas hitting .441-2-18 this spring with 12 successful stolen-base attempts in arow. It’s possible he could end up playing that position at Pepperdine shouldhe fulfill his commitment to that school. Buckel also finds time to sing andact in a stage version of the hit musical “High School Musical.” It’s on themound, though, that Buckel truly shines. He throws from a fast-paced deliveryand a close-to-overhand release point. His fastball is consistently in the90-93 mph range and he throws both a mid-70s curveball and a low-80s slider,although his curve is clearly his best secondary pitch. Buckel has consistentlyshown the ability to repeat his delivery and throw quality strikes.—DAVID RAWNSLEY
UPDATE (5/15): Buckel did his best this spring to overcome scouts’ hesitanceover his size and build by throwing consistently well all season, while alsoplaying shortstop when not pitching. He threw five shutouts en route to a solid11-1, 0.49 record with 14 walks and 115 walks in 71 innings. He also stood outat the plate, hitting .402-5-27.—DR



He has been assigned to the AZL club and will pitch out of the bullpen.



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Sunday, July 25, 2010

News and Notes

Texas
On the financial front, this interesting note from Jeff Wilson:

Judge D. Michael Lynn said last week that the Rangers won't be impeded on the road to the playoffs, which indicated that there is wiggle room in the budget. Daniels, though, said he has received no new orders on how he should proceed with trades. "We heard what he said, and if something presents itself that would require additional resources, I think we could follow up," Daniels said. "But I don't have any different budget or anything different at this point."

This quote appears to both confirm the Ranger's terrible oversight at the time of the bankruptcy filing to request additional operational funding from MLB or lenders (to avoid having to sell prospects for cash and do more in the trade market) and that they might still have some flexibility to do so before the trade deadline. It isn't clear however if that option actually still exists or if it had to made at filing. One curious aspect of the oversight is the failure of the local media to pillory the Ryan-Greenberg group for the oversight, the consequences of which have only been revealed in court proceedings via Nolan Ryan's testimony.


OKC
Harden makes his fourth start on Monday. If he can last 100 pitches, he will be sufficiently stretched out to force TX to make a decision about his future role though they have until 8/11 to do so when his rehab stint expires.

Holland will make his second rehab start on Wednesday after making his first for the AZL club on July/23 (3 shutout innings). The club could wait as long as 30 days to make a decision on him but it appears that he only needs to be stretched out before his activation. The decision on what role to use Holland in appears to be whether he replaces Feldman (or Harden) in the rotation or starts for OKC, as TX wants to keep him stretched out as a starter for obvious reasons. However, it appears that they have already made up their mind on how to contruct their bullpen for August, which means Holland probably won't go to the pen. After a lot of fanfare about Scheppers finally being stretched out to be a starter capable of going 100 pitches, he was immediately moved back to the bullpen. It seems that he will replace Mathis on the roster whenever he is ready and Nippert won't be activated from the DL until 9/1.

As to what they do with Harden, i just don't know. Maybe you get him one start (7/31) in the bigs to see if someone wants him in trade, make it known that Feldman is also available and make a deal if it makes sense. I'm kinda intrigued by the idea of Harden in the pen. Last year he got off to a slow start and then dominated in the second half, sitting with a plus fastball for the last 2 months of the season. Maybe a one inning role might suit him at this point in his horrible season. I am not at all interested in having Feldy in the bully as last year he was bad in that role before moving back to the rottation and I can't imagine he would be any better this year.

So I guess my preferred course of action would be this: trade Harden or Feldman and add the other to the pen though I prefer Harden over Feldy. Holland becomes the 5th starter Add Scheppers to the pen. Option Harrison and Mathis. Activate Nippert on 9/1. With Feldman cheaply under contract for next year, and with the possibility that he could find his 2-seam repertoire and compete for a roto spot in 2011, there is a strong argument to be made to keep him in the bully over Harden. As it appears that the team is set on keeping Ogando in the pen for the playoff run, even though he has options, it appears he isn't going anywhere. I suppose it is also possible to wait to add Scheppers to the pen while Harden auditions for the spot. I would prefer either or both Harden and/or Feldman in the pen to having Scheppers only pitch once a week, languishing on the bench, like so many other youngsters have during Warsh's reign, while continuing to overwork everyone else.

Well, at least you can't say that the next 10 days won't be really interesting.




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Thursday, July 22, 2010

More fiscal news

I missed this FWST Schlacter article yesterday detailing Ryan's testimony that specifically detailed how the minimal 2010 budget approved by MLB has hurt TX:

While Ryan may not have fulfilled his group's strategic mission, he did shed light on how he has had to run the team under monumentally challenging circumstances.

The team president contended that the bankruptcy put a "very expensive cost" to the trades of star pitcher Cliff Lee and catcher Bengie Molina. The team gave up some excellent talent, including first baseman Justin Smoak and three players in the minors. Even though the team received $4 million, it didn't compensate for the loss of talent, Ryan said.

These trades were accomplished only by closing down one of two Dominican teams and deciding not to sign any players from abroad. And this is going to hurt down the road, he predicted. "We're going to have a void in our system."

Morale among his non-playing staff is poor. They have not gotten a pay raise in two years while seeing a number of their colleagues -- including three senior executives -- laid off to cut overhead, he told the court. The Rangers risked losing talented staff to financially stable teams offering multiyear contracts, he warned.

And there's a late August deadline to order a new video scoreboard, which could run from $5 million to $12 million, which he said, is very important for marketing purposes.



Some pretty astonishing stuff here including the news that the DSL2 club was actually shut down to save money, something the club had previously denied. And from this fact, he seems to be saying that the club had to free up money in order to budget any FA acquisitions for the year. That is to say, MLB apparently did not approve a budget for the team that included those funds. Amazing. MLB forced TX to scrounge up loose change to due anything other than pay operating costs and salaries. If they did not approve enough money to account for overslot signings this will mark a sad and embarrassing day for the franchise and MLB even more than the Purke deal was.

Also, there was a mention from another source yesterday that TX is likely to start losing some ML scouts as teams try to woo them with better deals while TX treads water. What a fucking disaster. In that same piece it was revealed that Ryan did not know (which I assume to mean that no one on the Greenberg team knew) that TX could have (still can?) asked the court upon filing to request more money from MLB to maintain the club's value (read, not having to sell prospects) or ask the lenders to if MLB refused. If true, what a huge oversight for the Greenberg-Ryan group.



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j2, draft notes

From FWST Jeff Wilson:

The Texas Rangers have passed on the international signing period for now and have shifted that money in the budget to help fuel the big-league club's run toward the playoffs.

Assistant general manager Thad Levine said that the decision to forego signing prospects in Latin America was made a few months ago... While San Francisco picked up Molina's prorated salary and Seattle took on half of Lee's, the Rangers must pay contract incentives the players can reach. Those will be covered by money that had been budgeted for international prospects.

"We wanted to do everything in our power to augment what is already a strong 25-man roster," Levine said. "Moving ahead with Lee and moving ahead with Molina, it's a willing tradeoff."

The budget to sign players selected in the First-Year Player Draft has not been altered, and the Rangers continue to negotiate with the high-priority players they hope to sign.



So in the end, TX decided not to enter the j2 market as early as April or May it seems. This seems contrary to all the reports that this year's budget remained unaffected by the sale proceedings. Maybe they made the decision around the time that it appeared that the sale was going to drag on into the summer. Whatever the case, the explanation doesn't seem fully satisfactory as TX supposedly had the following things budgeted for the year: draft signings, j2 signs, trade acquisitions. Those budgets were set it, or so we were led to believe, including, despite what Levine intimates, player bonuses.

So it could be that MLB slapped more restrictions on any outgoing money from the club, or perhaps, TX is playing it really conservative, keeping all of their discretionary funds for further player acquisitions even if they are unlikely to occur, both at the deadline and in August during the waiver process. The latter seems the most likely explanation, and could still leave some room to sign some j2 kids at the end of August or in September if they don't have to take on much money in trades or need to use any additional monies to sign Jackson, Buckle, Grimm, Tepesch and perhaps a couple others to over slot bonuses greater than they budgeted.

Just a word about the j2 issue. I would much rather have us sign all of the high ceiling draft prospects than a high ceiling j2 guy almost 100% of the time if it came to that. j2 guys are highly unlikely to succeed unless they are super-star caliber players and there really aren't in in this j2 crop it seems. In addition, TX did something last year and this spring that it has never done before in the history of the club; it signed a j2 kid for a 7 figure salary. Not only did they sign one, they signed three kids and got a few steals like Payano and Perez so the talent on last season's j2 class is greater than at any other time than say back when they signed Font and a truckload of guys, so about 10 years. And finally, TX appears to have hit upon quite a few of its low six-figure signs from 2008 (T-Mart, Chirino, Villa, Herrera) so the current bounty of international prospects in our system has never been greater. If there was a year to sit out the j2 process this would be the year (terrific signings the last 2 years, weaker j2 class) and I'm ok with that. All it would take to make people forget about it next year would be to reel in a 3 million $ stud power-hitting OF and a new owner just might drop that kind of coin.

A word about draft signings. There has been some teeth-gnashing about some of he unsigned guys but July is always a signing void every year. I fully expect TX to sign Jackson, Buckel, Grimm, Tepesch and maybe a couple of other HS kids. Losing Beavan, Smoak and Main will only add to the determination to get those deals done by the deadline.


UPDATE: Ben Badler just updated his top j2 bonus list and this year already has 4 signings of at least 2 million (with Peguero and Heredia still unsigned) compared to last year when there were 3, though 2 of them were for 3.2 million (Sano, Sanchez). So some teams _do_ seem to think that there are some star-caliber players in this j2 class. Only time will tell.



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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Moves and Notes

Texas
TRS has some notes up on Harden and Holland. Harden looked just ok in his first rehab outing at okc lasting less than 3 innings and throwing about 50 pitches. He is scheduled for at least 2 more starts (graduating from 70 to 90 pitch limits) with a fourth possible depending how he does. So the earliest he would be activated would be 7/26 or 7/31 if he needed an extra start.

Holland has apparently recovered from his shoulder injury but has been strengthening his knee, as he has had problems with a kneecap dislocation since ST. He will pitch a sim game on Saturday and likely make 4 rehab starts if all goes well. This schedule would put him in line to be addded to the 25 around 8/11 or so if there is a need for him at that point.

OKC
Endy Chavez to the DL with continuing knee issues. Brandon boggs activated from the DL.

Tanner Scheppers had a a rough outing for his first start without an innings/pitch limit. He threw 85 pitches(54 strikes) over 4.2/11/5/2/1/1hr, 8-4 go/ao ratio. He's likely allowed to throw up to 100 pitches now. I think he gets 5 starts before TX considers bringing him up to the pen, so say 8/9. He would be around 80 innings, about the same total that Feliz had last year before his call-up when his season inning limit was about 100 innings as well.

Hickory
Yefry Castillo promoted from Spokane. Jonathan Roof promoted from the AZL (after a long while on the DL). West and Koncel to the DL.

Spokane
According to Jason Cole (via another source), Zach Ozborne was taken to the hospital after being hit in the face by a ball.
UPDATE: If I understand correctly, Ozborne was hit in the face by a line drive to RF while he pitching a side-session. Freaky. He had surgery today and will be back in a few weeks.

AZL
Tony Doyle made his first appearance (out of the pen) after his late May suspension.

Draft
12th round JR OF Josh Richmond signed. He was rated as high as a 3rd rounder coming into the year but missed a lot of the year due to a recurring left wrist injury. Very interested to see this kid get into some games. For like the first time in 10 years, the system has a lot of outfield prospects, though they are all in the lower levels for the most part.



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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Most interesting quote of the year?

Cliff Lee on Ichiro:

I asked Lee if playing with Ichiro was different than watching him from afar. it was a question that animated him more than any other.

"Obviously, before, I knew he was an unbelievable player, and one of the best ever. Getting a chance to be in the same locker room with him and play beside him, he's impressed me even more than I was impressed before with his routine, and how regimented he is on what he does and his worth ethic.

"I knew he got a lot of infield hits before. Usually, when guys get infield hits they mis-hit the ball on accident and beat it out. I really think he knows how to do that on purpose, and he does that intentionally. Getting to see a guy do that, and then can drive the ball out of the ballpark any time he wants to - to see a guy do that is highly impressive. I think he has the best hand-eye coordination of any athlete in the world. The way he does it and his technique, and the way his head is moving forward and yet he's able to stay back the way he does, it's highly impressive.




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Monday, July 12, 2010

Minor Notes

Bakersfield
It looks like Robbie Ross was placed on the DL after his last Hickory start on 7/1. No word on any injury but it could have merely been a bit of roster chicanery or a chance to work on some issues on the side before his promotion to HighA. He is scheduled for his first Bak start tonight per Jason Cole.

Hickory
Take a look at Jacobo Brigham's go/ao rate in his 3 Hickory outings and tell me that he wasn't sent down to work on a sinker. His rate in Bak was .85. His rate in three appearances in Hickory is 3.14 not including his start tonight in which he had a 13/3 ratio in his 6 innings of work. Just caught a velo note on him at 91 with 2 out in the 5th with a SOS on a FB to end the inning with a couple runners on.

ODLS had a nice CB working tonight.

Sam Brown has simply been dominating since his assignment to Hickory and should see Bak very soon. Low 90's FB and an AA slider.

AZL
Per Jason Cole:
Jon van Meter has been throwing bullpens for the last 10 days so he should be activated or begin rehab any day now.
Tony Doyle has also been throwing bullpens for about 10 days so TX could be close to activating him this week after his late May suspension.
After being demoted to the AZL for unspecified reason, Kyle O'Campo has been officially placed on the suspended list.

Not sure if this was a clerical error or roster chicanery but Jose Mavare was demoted to the DSL on 7/4 and then pitched in a game for the AZL club on 7/9. Who knows.



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Dominique Jones and other rambling Mavs notes

Here is a cool video analysis of Jones' first start for the Mavs summer league team. It pretty much confirms what we already know, and suggests that he should spend most of the year in the dleague: Great getting to the rim and finishing, poor shooting from the college three point line and out, sucks at the pick and roll. He is also a good passer but he doesn't have, as Junior suggested to the press, a good assist to turnover ratio (Junior pulled this figure from the same place in his ass that whispered in his ear "Ager is a good defender and passer."); he had about 3.5 assists per 3.5 turnovers last year.

A word on Roddy. I have to say that I'm a little puzzled that people continue to think of Roddy as a PG; he is a scoring guard. The end. He will turn 23 during the season and if he doesn't have the chops to effectively run an offense now, he won't have it later. There is a difference to running an offense to set up your teammates over breaking down your man to either score or setup a teammate for a basket as the defense collapses. Barea runs an offense well and has spectacular court vision; Roddy will never approach what he does. I think that Roddy is a Leandro Barbosa/Devin Harris kinda hybrid player who will likely end up as a 6th man unless you can pair him with a big guard with an above average handle (a Joe Johnson type). The comps to Parker are off-base in my estimation. Parker was in the league at the age of 19 and starting for the Spurs as a rookie. There was a reason that Dirk wanted Kidd more than Harris, and he said as much, to paraphrase, "if you need a guy to break down his man and go to the rim Harris is great but we need someone to setup his teammates."

In addition to lacking the vision thing, Roddy has one more fundamental failing that he may or may not be able to improve upon before next season to prevent him from being yanked. His team defense is horrible especially on the pick and roll where he seemed absolutely lost about the space around him, what the opposing offense was trying to do, and how to work through screens. Basically, if the opposition wanted a quick 2 or a quick interior foul last year, they ISO'd BoBo on a P&R when he was in the game. I will also say that despite his long arms and athleticism, it isn't clear that he will be a great individual defender on equally quick point guards as JR hopes. Look for those types to continue to get past him this year too.

And one final BoBo note: His measurements at the official pre-draft camp were 6.2 1/2 in shoes (so, rounded to 6.3) and weighed in at 183. The "6.0/170" figure is a bit floating around is a bit off.

Whatever the case, I'm very interested in watching BoBo next season as an electric scorer shooting threes and slicing through the defense (hopefully setting up dunks to Jefferson?!) but that is where my expectation ends.

I know everyone is down on Marion, and his #s the last 3 years suggest a decline (though his 2 years in Miami's slow mo offense are the primary factor that should be considered in that equation), but I think that Rick Carlisle misused him. Basically Marion was prohibited from shooting threes (or really, shooting in general), there were no offensive plays for run for him (even when it was clear that he was having difficulty fitting into the scheme), and he was basically a garbage guy, and defensive role player. When the Mavs were at their best in the second half of the season running and gunning, a style most suited to Marion's strengths, the lineup rarely included him, rather, it was a three guard set. Basically Carlisle turned Marion into a 40million dollar Edo Najera, a defensive role player. So there is that, which I hope Carlisle can address this season, but then there is Jr. signing him to that horrendous, untradeable contract that will burden the mavs for the next 4 years. JR is a tool, but a tool with a Cuban in his pocket, a Cuban all to willing to plop down his money for JRs ineffective talent evaluation and questionable feel for addressing team weaknesses.


On the Butler front, I like the kid, and he gives the Mavs the third scorer that they need, a guy who can break down his man, shoot, and play good individual D. I fear that Marion's untradeable contract might force the Mavs to trade Butler, who fills a fundamental role on the team that JR failed to address for the last 5 years, but who plays the same position as Marion, rather than just swallow their pride and turn Marion into a 20 minute a game 40 million$ 7th man. If Butler goes - and the Mavs fail to get an equivalent veteran wing - the Mavs might not sniff the second round once again if they make the playoffs at all.

Without Butler, the Mavs have no chance to defense elite big guards as the slow-footed Kidd moves to the off guard spot with whatever pg they roll out there. This remains an achilles heel of the team and will yet again force them to play zone defense during the playoffs when that set simply doesn't fly if you want a ring. If no other moves are made, I would hope that Marion starts at 3 and Butler starts at the 2. That lineup may have been ineffective last year, but it balances out the teams glaring weaknesses (D, wing scoring) and should be a lot better after getting a full training camp together.

Finally, it seems that the Mavs only FA option at the moment that would be an upgrade is to trade for Al Jefferson who could balance out the oddly configured roster with their first legit low-post scorer in years. His presence would also make BoBo more valuable at the point, as he can simply dump the ball to him when he inevitable gets by his man. The inability of the Mavs to score easy points in the playoffs - err, points in the paint - could be seen to be a more debilitating weakness than even their inability to play man-man defense. The biggest problem would seem to be that both players want to start so unless you trade Haywood (and say sign Damp to back up big Al) then you might have a big locker room issue that could derail the team (throw in Marion into that equation if he doesn't start and/or Carlisle doesn't get him more involved in the offense).


Ok, so you'll be glad to know that this is likely one of my last Mavs rants. I've got a virtual blog boycott on the team until they fire JR. Do you really want to see Junior here in 3 years when the Mavs are rebuilding? I didn't think so.


SUMMER LEAGUE NOTES:
Omar Samhan is one of the most unathletic players I've seen in a while: SOFT body, SLOW down the court, ZERO vertical. Has a nice high post jumper but is having trouble getting off his shots in the low post getting rejected more often than getting his shot off. He's not an NBA player. Buzz on Jeremy Lin has been pretty postive. Moves his feet well and keeps his man in front of him on D. Shan Foster actually drove to the bucket. Dominique Jones measured out at 6.4 1/2 in shoes, so 6.5.

BoBo getting his pocket picked a lot tonight as he deliberately tries to set up the offense and forgets about trailers and guys cutting off his passing angles. It's kinda like a quarterback staring down his wide receiver. He has about 6 assists, 6 turnovers, and 8 fouls, most of them due to grabbing people to prevent break-aways after he's had his pocket picked. He's looked terrible running the show tonight and now has about 20 turnovers in 3 games. When did he look good? Shooting the ball, driving the ball, scoring the ball.

Terrific 4th quarter though. About 20 lead changes and about 5 last second baskets, 2 to send the game to overtime, including one alley-oop off-balance fall away from an out-of-bounds pass to tie things up for the Mavs with .3 seconds left to send it to overtime. I screamed like a little girl I was so stunned that they pulled that play off. That kind of think only happens against the Mavs in the playoffs (or whenever Shawn Bradley was manning the middle). Then 3 baskets in the last 30 seconds including the game-winning jumper by Roddy after what seemed to be a game-clenching putback by Mil with only seconds left. Wow. Quite a quarter for a summer league game. If you can afford 14.95 for the NBA Summer League TV pass, this quarter alone is worth the price (all games are archived so you can catch them all if you miss any).



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Saturday, July 10, 2010

Minor Notes

Texas
The Ranger's are about to get swept by the worst team in baseball while Lee gives up 6er and 3hr in a complete game with fewer than 95 pitches. Bizarre. Their July record does not bode well for the second half after a record June: 3-7.

OKC
Warsh's continued fascination with having an extra lefty in the bullpen - despite the fact that he never has used Oliver or Harrison as loogies in actuality - has continued to block Pedro Strop's ascension to the 25. Given me Harrison in the OKC rotation and Strop on the 25 or both on the 25 with the release of Nippert. Strop is just too good to stay in the minors and Nippert has not rediscovered his 2009 form in any of his appearances this year.

I would expect Tanner Scheppers to move back into a bullpen role around the 1st week of August in order to keep his total innings to about 100-110 on the year. Whether he does this in the TX pen or the OKC pen for the month of August might depend on how well Pedro Strop is pitching and how long the team sticks with Nippert.

Rich Harden will start his rehab in OKC today with a 30-pitch limit. Derek Holland should follow by the end of the week but will probably do so in Frisco.

UPDATE: This from Richard Durrett at the Future's Game:
"Scheppers has been building up his innings and said that as of later this week, he'll be completely built up and a starter. He seems excited about that. We'll catch up with him after the game...Scheppers said he's scheduled to start on July 15. "

UPDATE: Scheppers hit 101 on the stadium gun and 99 several times on scout's guns in his 2/3 of an inning. He wasn't able to command his curve at all but he didn't need it. Not as jaw-dropping of a performance as Feliz had last year but I'll take 100...


Frisco

According to multiple sources, Martin Perez was taken out of the game after his 5th inning warm up tosses. Word is he had back spasms.

Jonathan Greene should be activated from his AZL rehab stint in the next few days.
UPDATE: Greene reassigned from the AZL to Bakersfield. Greene has been out with what turned out to be a serious hamstring injury since 4/28.

Frisco currently has only 22 active players on their roster.
UPDATE: Late roster move today. Tim Murphy promoted to AA from Bak. What a Bust!

Bak
Font was skipped for his scheduled start today and could be on the DL. No word on his injury status. Y-H Nam took the spot start.

I'm still pissed that TX has pigeon-holed Trevor Hurley into a bullpen role. He does'nt have the stuff to be a late-inning reliever in the bigs but does have the stuff to be a 3_4 starter IMO. As a result, and in this system, his ceiling might only be limited to that of a middle reliever. Que loco.

Hickory
Leury Garcia should be back from his rehab assignment in the next week. Terribly unfortunate that Vinny DiFazio should suffer such a slow-healing injury early in the season, a torn oblique; it could very well force him to miss the season. It was such a critical year for him given his age and missed time during his college years due to injuries/illnesses. Big setback.

DGut has been activated. Hooray.


AZL
No word on when Luis Sardinas will return from his EST hand injury (HBP). He was taking batting practice about a week ago per Jason Cole so here's hoping he gets into some game action next week.

Tomas Telis recovered in record time from his TJ surgery on 2/1/10, hitting as the DH for AZ as of June 21st. I wouldn't expect him to start throwing to based until instructs.

Justin Jamison has been on the suspended/restricted list for the entire year. Kyle Ocampo was demoted from Hickory to AZ on June 27th and was apparently inactivated tout court. Andrew Doyle has been suspended since May 27th.

Per Jason Cole, OF Edgar Alfonso has been converted to a pitcher and is essentially inactive during the conversion process. Leance Soto seems to be inactive as I think he is essentially apprenticing on the coaching Staff. Soto (signed during the offseason i believe) is related to the agent for Esteilon Peguero, one of the top 2010 j2 prospects, and of interest to TX. Coincidence? Probably not. Last year, Texas mysteriously signed nonprospect Andres Frias for a whopping 75k (~7th rd money) and it turned out that he was related to the agent for Guillermo Pimentel, top 5 2009 j2 prospect of interest to TX. The tact didn't work the first time and I wouldn't expect this attempt to grease the venal wheels of the j2 machine to work a second time 'round either.

UPDATE: Heh. Jason Cole just tweeted that Leance Soto has been released. Maybe this is also a good measure of our chances to sign Peguero as well?

INJURY REPORT:
K. Deglan has been on the DL or inactivated with an injured hand since June 29th. Albert Puello has been on the DL for the entire season. Joe Van Meter has been on the DL or inactivated since June 24. Injury-prone pitcher Tae Kyung Ahn has only pitched 2 innings this year.

UPDATE: Deglan was the DH in Sunday's game so I would expect him to be in that role for a week or so.

DSL
Dominican Luis Parra (LHP, 6.2/170), threw a 6 inning no-hitter yesterday with 1 ER, 1WP, 3 walks and 3 SO. Parra was one of 8 six-figure signs from the '08 j2 period (prob ~100k). Not sure what his ceiling is. From the limited info about him when he signed, he's a soft tosser, 85-88 with decent secs but who has had obvious command problems (see his debut #s). His SO/9 has increased, his groundball rate has been over 2 in both seasons, he has given up one HR in about 80 innings, and his h/9 and BAA has been great both years. His walk rate is down from about 8.5 to about 5.5.

According to one source, promising Dominican RHP Anyenil Mendoza has been placed on the restricted list or retired for unspecified reasons.

Correction: Jason Cole mistakenly reported that 09 VZ j2 sign Luis Mendez signed for 500k but has since amended that to "less than 100k". Lets call it 50-75k.

2010 j2 Signs: 6.5/190, Dominican RHP Jose Oviedo (17.2 - eligible last yr); 6.0/170, 18.5yo RHP Angelo LeClerc (country of origin unknown).

Former OF Luis Cabrera has been been converted to a pitcher.

DSL INJURY REPORT:
OF Hector Martinez was on the DL or inactivated from June 15 -July5, activated July 6th. OF Edward Ceballo has been on the DL or inactivated since June 16th. Ruben Sierra has been on the DL or inactivated since July 1. Andres Frias has been on the DL or inactivated since June 13th. Belarmino Campos was on the DL or inactivated a couple of times in the month of June. Luis Mendez has been on the DL or inactivated since June 30. Luis Villegas has been on the DL or inactivated since June 16. Pedro Tirado, injured last year, appears to have dealt with nagging injuries in June, pitching only 9 innings from June 5th to July 4th. Luis Baez appears to be on the DL having pitched only 1.1 innings this season. Hector Herrera has been on the DL or inactivated since June 17 and has 2 innings pitched on the season. Roberto Perez has been on the DL or inactivated since June first and was injured almost all of 2009 as well. 2009 j2 sign LHP Luis Daniel de la Torre (MX) is still rehabbing an injury at the AZ facility (per Cole) but will likely be assigned to the DSL when he is healthy.






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Clark on Beavan, Beavan on Beavan

A note about Beavan (pre-trade) by the OKC beatwriter:

RedHawks pitching coach Terry Clark got his first look at Beavan on the mound since spring training before Wednesday's doubleheader. The 21-year-old Beavan threw about 45 pitches in a bullpen session.

"We're just trying to get him to firm up his slider a little bit and throw his changeup — don't baby it, throw it in there," Clark said. "He's got very good command. He doesn't walk a lot of guys. He's going to challenge you in the strike zone. When we get him to use his pitches and be aggressive with them, he's going to be good."

Beavan has walked just 12 and struck out 68 in 110 innings.

"You're definitely going to have to mix it up more and change speeds here," Beavan said. "I'm just going to have to go into it as I've been doing in Double-A. I'll go from there and adapt to the league."




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AL West Reports

John Manuel of BA has a few AL West-related notes in his mid-season stock reports on prospects and farm systems:

STOCK UP
Blake Beavan, rhp, Rangers: The 17th overall pick in 2007, Beavan has added 40 pounds since being drafted and doesn't hit 96 mph anymore, as he did as a prep. Instead he sits in the 88-91 mph range— and scrapes better—with a changeup that has become his best secondary pitch, ahead of his slider. Most of all, Beavan understands pitching and commands his stuff, with just 12 walks in 110 innings at Double-A Frisco. He's mature enough to have handled the pressure of pitching close to home once in Frisco, and the Irving, Texas, native is one step closer to pitching at home in Arlington after a promotion to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

"He can really pitch," one pro scout with an American League organization said."He doesn't need to throw hard to be effective. He has very good control, and it takes hitters one or two times through the order before they even start to get a feel for what he's doing. He's probably not an ace, but he's got average stuff with command. That's a fourth-starter profile."

Robbie Erlin, lhp, Rangers: Erlin has average size and average fastball velocity, but nothing else about him is average. His fastball has solid life and he throws strikes with it, setting up his plus curveball and a changeup that some give 70 grades on a 20-80 scale. It's hard to get too excited, as he's thrown more than five innings just twice in low Class A Hickory's rotation. Of course, one of those was a six-inning outing with no hits or walks, one hit batsman and eight strikeouts. He'd given up more than one earned run in just three of his 18 outings and could move up quickly next year when he's not as restricted in terms of his workload.

Los Angeles Angels: The Angels have fallen in our talent rankings for several consecutive years, but the presence of Mike Trout alone will reverse that trend. Solid seasons from the likes of Peter Bourjos and Hank Conger at Triple-A, as well as breakouts by second baseman Alexi Amarista, righthanders Fabio Martinez and Tyler Chatwood, and lefthander Patrick Corbin have provided more good news.


STOCK DOWN
Oakland Athletics: No one has broken through the way the A's would have liked in 2010. Last year's draft looks solid with Grant Green, Ian Krol and Max Stassi, but injuries have sidetracked Jemile Weeks, Sean Doolittle and Pedro Figueroa. And as farm director Keith Leippman predicted, replacing a significant talent such as outfielder Grant Desme—who retired to enter the priesthood in the offseason—has proved difficult.




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Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Blake Beavan to OKC

Blake Beavan to OKC per Anthony Andro of the Ft Worth Star Telegram.



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Monday, July 5, 2010

No 7-figure guys this year?

This from TRS, which illuminates the complete silence about the Rangers on the j2 front:

Rangers not getting involved in international signings
TR Sullivan

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers, having made a big splash in January, are sitting out the current international signing period. As of July 2, clubs are allowed to start signing the latest clash of amateur free agents out of Latin America, but the Rangers aren't getting heavily involved.

The Rangers signed catcher Jorge Alfaro out of Colombia in January for $1.3 million and that will stand as their biggest acquisition this time around. With the uncertainty about their ownership situation still unresolved, the Rangers prefer to direct their limited financial resources toward any possible acquisitions at the Major League level.

The Rangers have often been one of the most active teams in Latin America and spent approximately $2.5 million a year ago to sign shortstops Jurickson Profar, Luis Sardinas and several other players after the July 2 deadline.




#######

Friday, July 2, 2010

Jake Brigham start, 7/2

FIRST
1. (walk)
2. (AO LF)
3. (SB, GO shortstop)
4. (AO LF)

SECOND
1. (GO to short)
2. fb high, fb cs osc, foul, cb cs osc cso, nice sharp curve, froze hitter
3. fb foul, fb outside, fb outside, fb outside, foul pop up

THIRD
1. fb cs osc, go short, quick strong throw by easy eddie just beats runner
2. foul, go 1b
3. foul, cb outside ss, cb just inside, cb infield single on a bad hop off Garcia's shoulder
4. ball inside, fb high inside, fb low, fb outside, Holman to the mound
5. (strike), cb cs, cb SOS

Fourth
1. (LD single LF)
2. (single flyball RF)
3. fb just high, fb low, fb up and inside foul, foul, gidp 3b
4. fb cs, offspeed outside, go 3b

50pitches/30 strikes thru 4; 7-3 ao/go

FIFTH
1. fb high inside, IFF 2b
2. cb cs, cb chopped foul, LD double over CF's head
3. fb inside, fb high inside, broken bat go to short
4. (LH) fb foul, fb high outside, fb low outside, ao center field

8-4 ao/go
~62 pitches thru 5
Brigham's final line: 5/4/0/2/2/0hr

Robbie Erlin in Relief
SIXTH
1. FB CS inside, fb up and in, changeup foul, fb foul, fb oustside, changeup foul (bat splinters), fb foul, fb SOS
2. fb ld flyball in the gap to RF
3. fb cs osc, fb cs osc, fb go to SS, low throw that 1b can't scoop, Bolden Error
4. fb cs osc, cb low, cb low, fb low away, ao to center

SEVENTH
1. fb cs, fb inside, fb high, hard foul RF line, hard foul third base line, CB in dirt, FB inside high
2. fb cs osc, cb ss, fb popped up shallow RF to second baseman
3. fb cs isc, foul, throws over, fb osc cso
4. cb bunt foul, cb cs osc, fb foul, fb foul (cracks bat), fb sos

Sam Brown in relief
EIGHTH
1. fb cs, fb ss, cb sos
2. strike, ball, strike, CSO
3. fb osc, breaking ball cs osc, strike, breaking ball outside, fb sos!!

(missed Ninth)



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j2 Preview: International Signing Day

Ben Badler's stuff
Prospect Blog
check for signing updates
Badler Tweets
check for signing updates
"Brace for a slow, strange July 2"


Badler on Rangers and J2:

"Texas Rangers: The Rangers' best prospect is arguably Martin Perez, a lefthander who signed with the organization three years ago for $580,000. The club added to its collection of Latin talent last year by adding a pair of seven-figure shortstops, Curacao's Jurickson Profar and Venezuela's Luis Sardinas. The club was also high on Dominican outfielder Guillermo Pimentel, who ended up signing with the Mariners for $2 million, and this year their target appears to be another offensive-oriented prospect, Dominican shortstop Esteilon Peguero. The Rangers have experience dealing with Peguero's trainer, Enrique Soto, signing his 25-year-old son Lee Soto in January the same day they signed another one of Soto's players, Colombian catcher Jorge Alfaro, for $1.3 million. The Rangers figure to be competitive for other top prospects in Latin America as well, though perhaps not to the extent they were last year because it's not clear whether their financial issues will affect their international spending the way it has in the draft."


Badler on Peguero:

EP Video

#ESTEILON PEGUERO, SS
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1 Wt.: 185

Peguero, a 16-year-old from Bani, trains with Enrique Soto and has been shown at showcases for La Academia and in games at the Dominican Prospect League. There are some scouts who have called Peguero the top hitter available in this year's July 2 class, as he's shown the ability to hit in game situations against live pitching. Peguero has a quick bat, good pitch recognition for his age and a sound swing. Peguero does have a late trigger that can give him problems against good fastballs on the inner half, but once he gets his hands through he's able to whip his bat through the zone with an excellent finish. Peguero isn't a power hitter, but he's able to drive the ball into the gaps and should grow into more power down the road. While Peguero's bat is his carrying tool, he's just an average runner and does not project to stick at shortstop. He will likely move to third base or second base, where some scouts believe he could become a solid defender. The Mariners and Rangers have both shown interest in Peguero, and some believe the Rangers are the favorite. On January 19, the Rangers signed a catcher represented by Soto, Jorge Alfaro from Colombia, for $1.3 million. That same day, the Rangers also signed Soto's son, 25-year-old third baseman Lee Soto, who signed with the Blue Jays for a high six-figure bonus in 2005 but was released after the 2008 season after hitting .201/.248/.293 in four seasons of Rookie and short-season ball."



Badlers Top 33 with Videos (ranked from high bonus - low bonus)

1. Esteilon Peguero, SS, Dominican Republic (video)
2. Luis Heredia, RHP, Mexico
3. Adonis Cardona, RHP, Venezuela
4. Renato Nunez, 3B, Venezuela
5. Eskarlin Vazquez, RF, Dominican Republic
6. Phillips Castillo, OF, Dominican Republic
7. Vicmal de la Cruz, CF, Dominican Republic (video)
8. Rougned Odor, SS, Venezuela (video)
9. Wilmer Romero, CF, Dominican Republic
10. Ariel Ovando, OF, Dominican Republic (video)
11. Humberto Arteaga, SS, Venezuela
12. Jose Torres, RHP, Colombia
13. Yorman Garcia, CF, Venezuela
14. Gabriel Cenas, 3B, Venezuela
15. Elvis Sanchez, 3B, Dominican Republic
16. Angel Mejias, LHP, Venezuela
17. Yoel Araujo, CF, Dominican Republic (video)
18. Jordi Calderon, 3B, Venezuela
19. Edwin Moreno, OF, Dominican Republic (video)
20. Argy Raga, C, Venezuela
21. Alberto Triunfel, SS, Dominican Republic
22. Jose Tovar, LHP, Venezuela
23. Pedro Perez, 3B, Colombia
24. Yorman Landa, RHP, Venezuela
25. Vicente Lupo, OF, Venezuela
26. Antonio Gonzalez, SS, Dominican Republic
27. Geronimo Franzua, LHP, Dominican Republic (video)
28. Ronny Mejias, SS, Venezuela
29. Christopher Tamarez, SS, Dominican Republic
30. Luis Abad, RHP, Dominican Republic
31. Felix Jorge, RHP, Dominican Republic
32. Javier Pimentel, SS, Dominican Republic
33. Anderson Gonzalez, SS, Venezuela


Frankie Piliere
Frankie Piliere's j2 top 24 (5/17)


Dominican Prospect League
A few profiles and videos You'll find that a handful of the top prospects played in this league which began in November and is still going I think. They have aggregated stats.
DPL Twitter


BBTIA
David Brown interview w/Ben Badler


Baseball America Scouting Videos
A Few More Vids


Prospect Insider
Jason Churchill on Seattle's j2 wishlist Jason Churchill has the inside scoop on Mariners prospects, j2 rumors


North Side Baseball
CaliforniaRaisin's Cubbies j2 thread One of the better j2 threads around. Given the Cub's are the dominant presence in Korea, one of the few sites that has discussion of Korean
prospects/signs. Check it out.

MLBTR
Brant Bentley's j2 top 10
claims to have been in the DR for 3 months this spring
5 Brant Bentley scouting vids

Kiley McDaniel
Prospect Videos Vimeo
Though posted last year, McDaniel took video of a lot of 2010 eligible players who were working out with clubs alongside the 2009 eligible players.

Daily Sports Pages
Another good forum that is NYY-centric but covers all signings and rumors. It has lots of links to blogs, tweets, beat writers, and videos. I've linked the forum starting at page 10 as those entries begin in June. Pages 1-10 cover basically March thru May and have a lot of info and vids but might not interest everyone.

I should add, you might also find a few purloined j2 articles from paysites there as well. You didn't hear it from me...

Keith Law
j2 blog entry (espn insider)
He's no Arangure.

Rafael DePaula
Latest Update
Baseball Prospectus Profile
Jason Churchill on DePaula
5 DePaula Vids

Taiwan
Taiwan Signings and Profiles

Korea
Korean Signings

Japan
NPBtracker.com
Check in at times June thru August to see which eligible HS/College kids might skip the NPB draft at the end of October sign with an MLB team. Provides profiles on them as well as discussion about NPB free agents and the NPB in general. Also has a cool pitch f/x for NPB league games.

Spanish language foro:
Planeta de Beisbol





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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Spokane Notebook

JUNE 28:

Spokane starter Miguel De Los Santos (1-0) was up for the challenge, striking out five and allowing two singles in five innings. De Los Santos hasn’t allowed an earned run in two starts and nine innings.
“I was working inside to hitters with my fastball,” said the fifth-year pro from the Dominican Republic. “I’m excited … just trying to do my job.”


June28

“We had to find a way to win a game,” said Spokane shortstop Jurickson Profar, who reached in the two-run seventh with a bunt single. “In the other games, we had the bases loaded but we can’t get them around, but today was different, this was the way to win a ballgame.”

Profar, who was 2 for 4, also came up with the stop of the night in the top of the eighth. Rivers brought Everett within one with a leadoff blast off Indians reliever Colby Killian. Everett then loaded the bases Terry Serrano hit a hot shot up the middle of the infield. Profar stabbed it with a diving catch, stepping on second base before turning the inning-ending double play.

Holding a one-run lead in the ninth, the Indians handed the ball to Ovispo De Los Santos, who struck out the side to earn the save. “I think just that last inning right there can give us momentum,” Bell said. “(De Los Santos) comes in and he strikes out three in a row, that’s momentum in itself. Profar making that play – that picked us up. We’re just trying to carry over the energy.”


JUNE 19

Scott is 4 for 6 in the series, with two walks, and would be 5 for 6 if Indians shortstop Jurickson Profar hadn’t robbed him of a hit in the eighth. Scott’s grounder glanced off third baseman Daniel Lima’s glove to Profar, who made a strong throw from deep in the hole.

“The third baseman tipped it and gave (Profar) a little bit of extra help, or I would have been safe,” Scott joked.



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ROSS START, 7/1

FIRST
1. (BUNT HIT)
2. HBP
3. FB INSIDE, FIELDER'S CHOICE AT 2B, JAMMED HIM, JUST MISSED DP
4. FB CS OSC, BACKDOOR SLIDER CS OSC, HIGH FB SOS
5. (LH) SLIDER BALL ISC, FB CS, SLIDER GO

SECOND
1. (DOUBLE GB RF)
2. (WALK)
3. (SAC BUNT, ERROR 1B KONCEL ON MISSED CATCH - BASES LOADED)
4. GIDP, RUN SCORES
5. FB FOUL, FB CS OSC, SLIDER LOW INSIDE, GO
NOTE: FB LOW 90'S, SLIDER LOW 80'S (83-84)

THIRD
1. JAMMED FB ISC, BLOOP SINGLE LF
2. SLIDER FOUL, SLIDER INSIDE FOUL, SLIDER LOW INSIDE, SLIDER FC SS JUST MISSED DP
3. FOUL, GIDP 3B
NOTE: ROSS REALLY KNOWS HOW TO WORK INSIDE, JAM BATTERS, BREAK BATS AND GET DOUBLE PLAYS WHEN HE NEEDS THEM

FOURTH
1. (SOS)
2. foul, ball, foul, standup double, left center field gap
3. fb outside, catcher visits mound, infield single to shortstop
4. slider low, fb oustide, Brad Holman visits mound, foul, rbi groundout
5. fb inside, hbp
6. foul, go

FIFTH
1. POP UP TO CATCHER
2. FOUL, SLIDER OUTSIDE, FOUL, FB HBP
NOTE: ROSS' THIRD HIT BATTER, NOT MISSING A LOT OF BATS IN THIS OUTING, HIS SLIDER ISN'T AS EFFECTIVE AS HIS LAST START
3. FOUL, SB THROW LATE, FOUL, FOUL, SLIDER LOW, FB FOUL JAMMED, SHALLOW AO (NICE BASKET CATCH BY PIMENTEL, CRASHING INTO FENCE IN FOUL TERRITORY), RUNNER ADVANCES
4. FOUL, FB OUTSIDE, FOUL, SLIDER JUST OUTSIDE, SOFT LD SINGLE LF, RBI
5. GROUNDBALL SINGLE BY 3B
6. FB BALL, FOUL, FOUL, RBI DOUBLE
NOTES: ROSS UNABLE TO THROW FIRST PITCH STRIKES IN THE LAST 2 INNINGS UNLIKE LAST OUTING, HE JUST DOESN'T HAVE HIS BEST FB COMMAND OR SLIDER TONIGHT
7. GROUNDBALL TO 3B, ERROR ON 1B KONCEL, LOW THROW BY WEST, RBI
8. HOLMAN TO THE MOUND, FB LOW INSIDE, BALL, FB CS ISC, LD SINGLE TO CF, RBI

ROSS IS DONE. PXP GUYS STILL HAVEN'T CALLED A SINGLE CHANGEUP IN ROSS' LAST THREE STARTS.

NOTES:
1. JOHNNY GUNTER IN RELIEF (MISSED HIS 1.1 INNINGS)
2. JOHAN YAN PITCHED THE 7TH AND WIELDS A GOOD CHANGEUP THIS OUTING TO MY SURPRISE. NOT SURE WHAT IS VELO IS AS A SIDEARMER NOW. PREVIOUS GAME PXP SAID HE THREW A CURVEBALL BUT AS A SIDEARMER IT IS PROBABLY MORE LIKE A SLIDER/SLURVE DUE TO THE ARM ANGLE. PITCHES 2 SCORELESS INNINGS.
3. Mighty Joe Ortiz had his sweeping curve working in the ninth, striking out the first to hitters.

UPDATE:
I asked Jason Cole over at LonestarDugout.com what he thought about the lack of changeup calls in Ross' starts by the Hickory PxP guys. Given that Ross did throw the pitch last year in Spokane, and quite effectively at times, and that Ross has talked with Cole about working really hard on the pitch last year, I found the whole affair a little odd. Here is the exchange which confirmed my suspicions:

Goyo: I've listened to his last three starts and the pxp guys have not called a single changeup in any of this starts. Given that this is his 3rd pitch, I'm fairly certain that the coaching stiff is fairly intent on not letting him forget to throw it in game action. Do you think the pxp crew is just seeing his change as a FB? I've heard them call changups for other pitchers during that three week period, sometimes in the same game, so I'm a little puzzled. It seems as equally unlikely that Ross wouldn't be throwing it/working on it as it does that the pxp crew wouldn't recognize it given that they do call the pitch for others (and assuming there is a gun so that they can see the velo). Anyways just wanted your take...


Coley: I think it's highly unlikely that he's just stopped throwing his changeup. I've heard that he mixes in a decent amount each game––not a ton but not exactly abandoning it either. I think that probably falls on the announcers sometimes struggling to recognize the fastball-changeup differential, especially since (if I recall correctly) the radar gun in Hickory is WAY off. I remember it having Font at like 86 last year when he was at 94.




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Moves and Notes

Texas
Recalled Pedro Strop. Hopefully this kid gets a legit chance to stick this time. He has slumped a bit the last couple of weeks, a little more hittable, a little less command, but at least 2 reports have him touching 97-98 this week. Kids a stud: FB, Slider, Split - all swing and miss pitches when their on.

Including tonight's start (Thursday), CJ Wilson has 24 walks in his last 6 starts!

OKC
Hersom on Boggs
Chris Davis named PCL all-star starter; Strop and Kirkman names as reserves.
Per Hersom, Boggs is dealing with a wrist injury:
Boggs has been bothered by strained ligaments in his left wrist over the last two weeks. A switch-hitter, he has been limited to batting against only right-handed pitchers.

Frisco
Jacob Kaase demoted to Bak.

Bak
Jared Bolden demoted to Hickory.

Hickory
Dad's Notes
Robbie Erlin named SAL pitcher of the week, June 21-27.

Edwin Garcia has moved into the starting SS spot with Leury on the DL. He's plays above average shortop with good speed that does not play up on the bases, he has good gap power and a patient approach but has a long swing that makes him prone to slumps. He has been hitting much better this week and has had a lot of quality at bats, working long counts, which makes me think he has made some mechanical adjustments of late to allow him to make more consistent contact. One thing is for sure, his hands and transfer are much more reliable than Leury's and you won't see a spate of errors from the kid. I'm an "Easy Eddie" homer to be sure.

Arizona
From Bill Mitchell(billazbbphotog):
"Profar and Sardinas were the high profile shortstop signings by #Rangers last year, but I also like the way Oduber Herrera plays defense."

Virtual Reality
My favorite google query that resulted in a hit on this site: "Newberg gets paid."




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Breaking News: Michael Main is PTBNL

Some people will freak about this trade but Main is no longer an elite prospect; he's has a #3_4 ceiling in my opinion: Ave 88-92 FB (same as last year); inconsistent CB, no longer plus (same as last year); below average CU (same as last year); ao/go rate .65; led league in HR allowed; led world in HR allowed vs LHH. He probably would've been tattooed in Frisco. Will see if that is case if he is assigned to AA with his new club.

Basically it is Main for 2 million$, a move to upgrade the catching platoon for a mid-level starting prospect who is repeating hgih A who likely won't be ready to compete for a starting rotation spot until 2013. Getting the team to pick up the cash allows us to take on salary for a big-time pitcher in a future trade (Lee, Oswalt). Now ideally, you would just take on his salary and get them to add a prospect but the circumstances for TX are different until the sale goes down.

Whatever the case, this system is overflowing with guys with the same 3_4 ceiling at every level so I'm not fretting about this move. This is a great move if TX lands a top rotation pitcher at the deadline with the money they saved (err, did not use) with this move. It will be a poor trade if TX does not get their man. However, Michael Main is not all that anymore and hasnt been for some time. Carlos Pimentel (#4 ceiling) has put up similar #s to Main in his first go 'round in High A and he is 1 year younger. Take a look at their splits:

Carlos Pimentel
Michael Main


So lets move on now to securing that top rotation veteran.



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Minor Notes, Major Moves

Texas
Traded Chris Ray and PTBNL for Benji Molina and Cash. Not sure I get this trade as Molina is having a shitty year. I will say this though. People have rightly pointed out Ray's lucky #s this year but he has regained his pre-surgery velo in the last month and his slider has looked much improved his last couple of outings. His problem this year, in my opinion, has been that he had absolutely lost the feel for his slider and was basically a 1 pitch dude. It wouldn't surprise me if he had a decent second half.

Omar Beltre made his debut last night for TX. I was extremely impressed by the kid's ability to cut/run, sink, and elevate his fastball, sitting 92-94 and touching 95. The kinds of movement at his command almost made it seem like he was working with a 4s, a sinker, and a cutter in addition to his splitter. Really interesting kid. I had seen him pitch with OKC on the MiLB feed but the angle of view on the regional broadcast showed his pitch movement much more effectively. I was a little surprised even though I had already seen him. When I saw him he was really effectively working his FB down in the zone and his slider was on.

I will say he has to throw more strikes and command his slider more effectively but I'm stoked to see him make another start. The only drawback for the kid, as I pointed out yesterday, is that he is not sufficiently stretched out to go six innings, and there is an injury risk if you try to push him too hard - he's had shoulder and elbow problems since the fall of 2008 and only pitched about 20 innings in all of 2009!

There has been some speculation (by Cole I think), that his arm might be lessed stressed by starting than relieving - he has been bounced between the pen, the roto, and the DL a few times this season, only moving back into the OKC roto the last 5 games or so. If so, his utility might be limited to the big club, being forced to return to the OKC roto when Harden and or Holland return. However, if he can handle bullpen duties for the rest of the year, I would be very excited to see him carry out that role. I think he could be beastly!

Thinking about August through the post-season, I can't imagine a better bullpen in baseball by adding Beltre, Strop and Scheppers to the great group we already have: Feliz, FranFran, Oliver, Ogando, Oday couple with whichever of the four "H"s doesnt return to the roto (Harden, Holland, Hunter, Harrison). Those are some seriously exciting arms.


Frisco
Jason Cole is reporting that Engel Beltre has been promoted to AA. I'm on record as saying this kid is nothing more than a 4_5 OF for an NL team at best. I'm going to say that he gets abused by AA pitching for the rest of the year and his .400 bip bubble finally bursts. If I'm wrong I will loudly proclaim it so from the highest mountain top!

In case I failed to mention it, Kiker has been moved to the bullpen upon his return.


Bak
There are some reports that Velazquez has been promoted to Bak. He has been slumping recently and his OPS has declined from his April #s in both May and June. He might start off a little slowly there as a result. His M.O. is to whiff a lot his first 7-10 games and then his walk/so ratio should improve dramatically. He seems to be good at making the necessary adjustments at each level.


Hickory
Jake "the Brigand" Brigham made his bullpen debut last night. I'm gong to speculate that this is not a permanent move, rather, he will be tasked with figured out the mechanical issues that make his command of 2 potentially plus pitches (FB/CB) so erratic. If it was on his changeup that was an issue, he would be allowed to work on that in Bak, however, the issues are much more fundamental. If he can figure it out he should be back up to Bak as a starter before season's end. If not, he could return as a bullpen arm.


AZL
Carlos Melo pitched a no-hitter over 5 innings. I think people overreacted to his tough spring. Spring Training is Spring Training, and nothing more. Whether you've had a great ST or a piss poor ST, ST performance (and this goes doubly so for minor leaguers) is no measure or projection on a player's future performance. To wit, Melo has had excellent fastball command during his first two seasons, first in the DSL, then the AZL last year - ck out his #s after his first couple of games and you'll see that his command was above average and his #s on his age 18 season were similar to those that Escobar and Alvarez put up. Kid has a high ceiling.

Another factor for Melo getting off to a slow start this spring is that I seem to remember some personal issues forcing him to miss Instructs and the early part of spring training, only showing up to extended spring training in AZ. I could be wrong on all or part of this as that is what i recall but can't document right now. Missing all of that time in an off-season routine will have an effect. Just ask Kasey Kiker why he sucked so bad in 2008?



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